If you’re looking for a deal, this could be the best time to stock up on pork. There is currently a glut on the market because producers, spurred by high feed prices, rushed to liquidate hogs at the end of the summer. “Producers are reducing breeding herds by selling sows and keeping back fewer gilts – young female pigs,” explains Steve Meyer, pork industry analyst and president of Paragon Economics. “They’re also selling pigs at a lower weight to try and avoid feed costs on those last few pounds.”
This in turn has led to very low prices at the wholesale level. Whether these bargains make it to the meat counter at your supermarket, however, isn’t necessarily a given. Retailers are keen to stabilize prices as much as possible. They avoid making reductions even when meat comes to them cheaper because they know that eventual increases and short supplies will be sure to follow, sooner or later. “When prices go up dramatically it’s much more noticeable to the consumer who’ll say, what the heck happened to my pork chops, or my sausages,” says Meyer.
True enough, the mechanisms to restrict pork output will eventually drive prices up. But, this won’t happen until late 2013 because the biological time frame for pigs is about a year, says Meyer. “There’s a significant time lag involved, and by the time the costs get passed down to the consumer, it’s so far down the road that people forget why it’s happened.”
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